Cane Toad

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Other common names: Marine Toad; Giant Toad

Scientific name: Bufo marinus

The basics:
In terms of pet suitability, the Cane Toad shares all the great qualities of the American Toad – an American Toad on steroids, that is! But folks with enough space for a ponderous giant can ask for no more responsive amphibian pet.

The huge natural range extends from southern Texas and southern Sonora, Mexico through Mexico to northern South America. The Cane Toad has also been widely introduced, with disastrous ecological consequences, to Florida, Hawaii, Taiwan, Japan, New Guinea, Australia, many Caribbean and South Pacific islands and other foreign locales.

The Marine Toad is very adaptable, being found in open forests, grasslands, marshes, and disturbed sites such as agricultural areas, suburbs and urban parks.

Appearance / health:
This largest of the world’s toads may reach 10 inches in length. It is tan to brown in color, sometimes with a yellow or reddish tint. Enormous parotid (poison) glands extend from behind the eyes to the sides of the body. The body is squat and rounded in profile.

These hardy amphibians may live to 30+ years of age with proper care. Nutritional concerns such as “Short-Tongue Syndrome” (related to a Vitamin A deficiency) and digestive tract blockages that result from substrate ingestion are the most commonly encountered health problems.

Behavior / temperament:
Cane Toads are among the most engaging of amphibian pets. They are, in general, more responsive than most frogs, seeming to watch everything and to deliberately consider their next move. Protected by size and powerful skin toxins, most seem possessed of real “confidence” in captivity.

While they will readily hop onto the hand for a meal, these friendly creatures should be handled only when necessary, and then with wet hands so that the skin’s protective mucus is not removed. Amphibian skin secretions may cause irritations when transferred to their owner’s wounds, eyes, or the mouth.

Marine Toads do well in groups if provided enough space and cover. A 55 gallon tank makes a good home for 2 adults.

Sphagnum or carpet moss may be used as the substrate, as these are difficult to swallow. Washable terrarium liners also work well. Cork bark rolls, and plastic caves will be well-used as retreats.

These hardy creatures can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, but fare best when kept at 72-80 F. They need only a simple water bowl, which should be changed daily. Chlorine and chloramine must be removed from water via liquid preparations available at pet stores.

A highly-varied diet is essential. Crickets alone, even if powdered with supplements, will not support long-term health. Earthworms (excellent as the base of the diet), roaches, sow bugs, crickets, locusts, butterworms, calciworms and other commercially-available insects will all be readily accepted. Minnows, shiners, crayfish and the occasional pink mouse will help supply enough calcium. Most meals should be coated with a powdered Calcium/Vitamin D3 supplement. A vitamin mineral supplement may be used 2-3x weekly.

Captive breeding is not common except in large outdoor enclosures. Males may be distinguished from females by their smaller size. A commercial rain chamber, or increased misting, may stimulate breeding behavior at almost any time of the year.

Gravid female toads deposit their eggs (many thousands of them!) on the water’s surface and among aquatic plants. At 76-82 F, the tadpoles hatch within 3-12 days. They may be reared on a diet of fish food flakes, commercial tadpole pellets, and par-boiled kale.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


huge Cane Toad, herpetologist, interesting characters, extremely large toads


invasive species, minor toxin, poison glands, hiding, novice owner, perfect humidity


cane toad season, wear shoes, QLD, Cane Toad licking

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